My Emerging Leader Experience: Abigail Sparling

Half-length portrait of Abigail Sparling standing with arms crossed like she means business

2018–2019 has been the year of raising my hand and finding my professional home in ALCTS. My first ALA Annual Conference was in 2018, where I attended an amazing session put on by the ALCTS Electronic Resources Interest Group. Motivated by the speakers, I stayed for the business meeting after the session and found myself volunteering to co-chair the interest group. It wasn’t long after that I learned about the ALA Emerging Leaders Program. The program seemed like the perfect opportunity to learn more about the structure and governance of ALA and my potential place within it. I was delighted and honored to be named the 2019 ALCTS Emerging Leader.

Building your professional toolkit as a new librarian is as much about building relationships with others as it is about skill acquisition. Fostering these relationships and learning alongside my Emerging Leader colleagues this past year has been such a pleasure.

For new library professionals the ALA Midwinter Meeting and Annual Conference can be overwhelming events. However, thanks to the Emerging Leaders Program I was able to make connections with so many smart, kind folks, that at this year’s conferences I no longer felt lost in the crowd. While I learned a great deal from conference programing for Emerging Leaders, what I really appreciated about the program was the opportunity to meet and collaborate with colleagues who were also new to navigating the world of professional librarianship. Building your professional toolkit as a new librarian is as much about building relationships with others as it is about skill acquisition. Fostering these relationships and learning alongside my Emerging Leader colleagues this past year has been such a pleasure.

In particular, I am thankful for the opportunity I had to work with my Emerging Leaders team on the LITA-sponsored Close to Home project. For this project, our team investigated the potential pathways for LITA to develop and implement local networking groups. The goal is that these groups will bring together library technology folks who are geographically close through low-barrier skill sharing, networking, and other professional development activities. Having recently moved across the country for work and needing to establish local connections, I was drawn to this project because it sought to fill a need I felt strongly myself!

As ALCTS, LLAMA, and LITA explore the formation of a new ALA division — Core: Leadership, Infrastructure, Futures — it’s an exciting time to be offered a place at the ALCTS table.

Working with the vision provided by LITA, our team surveyed other library- and technology-related associations with local groups to develop a set of best practices for initiating and sustaining engaged local leaders and membership. With our best practices developed, we sent a survey to LITA membership to determine their interests and concerns around participating in local networking groups. We were happy to find that there is strong interest among LITA members to participate in local networking groups, and are excited to see what LITA does with our recommendations for implementing a pilot of a local group. 

Having now officially “emerged” (with the ribbon and pin to prove it), I’m looking forward to my continued involvement in ALCTS as I start my term as the ALCTS Board Intern. As ALCTS, LLAMA, and LITA propose the formation of a new ALA division — Core: Leadership, Infrastructure, Futures — it’s an exciting time to be offered a place at the ALCTS table.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.